Print
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 28, September 1984

By C.W. Malcolm

Arthur Mee, the editor of the famous Children's Encyclopaedia, has a chapter in one of his books entitled "The Tale the River tells." It is, of course, the Thames in England, and he traces the long history the river has seen. He says, "The memories of a hundred thousand years are in its flow .... Time is nothing to the river."

Our river, by which I mean both Ohinemuri and Waihou, is the one and only continuous thread that runs through our district's entire history. If the river could speak we should have a complete record of our past. It could tell us of the geological formations and the geographical phenomena that determined the nature of our landscape.

It witnessed the earliest inhabitants and their way of life. It has given up evidence, brought to light by modern dredging, of their mode of existence; for years I treasured and used in my teaching such artefacts (now presented to the Paeroa Museum) as a canoe-bailer, a pinaki (wooden weeding implement), and fern-root pounders.

Captain Cook in the historic year 1769 travelled far upstream with pinnace and longboat as far as Netherton and within sight of the hills that form the backdrop to Paeroa. He told the world of the trees that adorned the banks and drew the timber seekers to these parts.

Missionaries later established their stations along the river's banks and not before the most historic of them, Samuel Marsden, actually visited Paeroa proclaiming the Christian message to the inhabitants of the pa situated where the Waihou curves to join the Ohinemuri, on Sunday, 18 June 1820, the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. (In my Ohinemuri Chronology, Journal 18, an editorial insertion of the date 1815 is an error [corrected - E].)